I’ve been listening to a few new album releases while reading a few articles on Copyright. As everyone knows, copyright lasts for the life of the creator plus 70 years.
In 2015, Matt Heafy from Trivium turns 29 years of age and Claude Sanchez from Coheed and Cambria turns 37 years of age. According to various research, males are expected to live to about 80. If all goes to plan then their copyrights on “Silence In The Snow” and “The Color Before The Sun” (both released in 2015) is expected to expire/enter the public domain on 1 January 2136 and 2128 respectively.
That’s right people, the way copyright currently stands around most western societies, “Silence In The Snow” and “The Color Before The Sun” will be protected by copyright for 121 and 113 years respectively.
Now remember, Copyright was designed to provide creators of works an incentive to create more works by rewarding the creator with a number of rights for a limited period of time. After the copyright expires, the work enters into the public domain so that any person can copy the work in part or in whole in as many as different ways possible. The whole British rock movement happened because most of the blues, jazz and folk standards from the 1930’s were out of copyright, free for others to build upon.
However, from Copyrights beginnings, the terms have been extended a number of times, so that in 2015 we have a copyright that protects works for a long time.
Hell, even a song like “Smoke On The Water” will still be under copyright long after I am dead, and I was born after the song was released.
Jon Lord’s Copyright will expire in 2082, as he passed away in 2012. Ritchie Blackmore’s, Ian Gillan’s and Roger Glover’s Copyright will expire in 2095 while and Ian Paice’s Copyright will expire in 2098 provided they all live up to 80 years of age.
So what we have is a problem where the public finds it difficult to build upon works protected by copyright to create new products.
So who do you think will benefiting from this long copyright extension after death?
Will the family members of the creator benefit?
Will the third-party who owns the Copyright because the creator or the family of the creator sold/licensed the copyright to them for a fee and for a time period benefit?
In the future to come, I expect to see a music publisher purchase the Copyrights to an obscure NWOBHM song called “Rainbow Warrior” from a band called Bleak House and then take Metallica to court under plagiarism claims for “Welcome Home (Sanitarium). Or a music publisher who owns the copyrights to “Sad But True” and “Symphony Of Destruction” from Metallica and Megadeth, then taking Avenged Sevenfold to court under plagiarism claims for “This Means War” and “Heretic”.
Sort of like how the music publishing company Larrikin who purchased the copyright to the children’s song “Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree” from the Public Trustee, sued Men At Work for a 10 second flute solo on their song “Down Under” that sounded similar to the melody in the children’s song. .
The sad part is that the Copyright collection societies are posting record collections, while still screaming for restrictive and longer copyright terms.
It’s basically these kind of societies along with powerful rights holders like Disney and the Record Labels that have lobbied governments to extend the scope of copyright. And it doesn’t look like changing anytime soon and the courts will be clogged up with plagiarism suits, when in fact, all of those suits should be thrown out. Because no music is created in a vacuum.